Monday, March 3, 2008

Descendants of Marranos (Anousim) - should they be encouraged to convert? II

Recipients and Publicity wrote:


That such an article appears on the Aish HaTorah website should be a cause for alarm in the Charedi world.

There should be a protest by the BADATZ against this kind of backtracking into Jewish history to seek "converts" and to put Aish HaTorah and organizations devoted to seeking "Jews lost and intermingled among the gentiles" on notice, that organizational efforts like this are essentially anti-Halachic because it is one thing for an individual to make their path to Yiddishkeit following the way Divine Hashgocha may have guided them, but that it is quite a different matter when organizations are set up, as is EJF, to facilitate the mass registration, collection, education, and help to convert goyim to Yiddishskeit that is anti-Halachic.

There is an importnat factor that must be born in mind. That in changes in Western culture in the last 25 years, there has also come a greater openess to alternate and outside-the-system beliefs and ways of life.

So just as many liberal-minded people have become open to oriental religions like Buddhism and even to Islam, there is a significal stream of people who have developed an admiration for Jews and a desire to not just know more about Judaism but to become "Jewish" in some way.

There are therefore many "Jews by choice" (see things like http://jewsbychoice.org/ and http://jbuff.com/c060400.htm and http://joi.org/blog/?p=852 and http://www.converttojudaism.org/ to see how this concept is used and plays it outself out) who are usually gentiles who may not even have an urge for any Jewish religious conversions but they have decided that by their own criteria they are "Jews" -- after all in a society that places a premium on autnomous choice this is a valid move.

And then of course, there are the more open oned, neither-here-nor-there, such as the many gentiles welcomed by the Kabbalah Centre, the best-known being the singer Madonna who has taken on a Hebrew name of "Esther" has her own personal rabbi, she spends hours per day studying with him, has given tens of millions to the Kabbalah Centre of London and has brought many celebrities, some born Jews and many not on board this group.

Rav Ovadiah Yosef has long openly opposed the Kabbalah Center people, and no doubt it has gone a long way to clarify to the Sephardic masses especially in Israel who may care about Halachah to stay awy from the Kabbalah Center people and their ilk.

There are many other factors and examples that can be cited, but the bottom line is that now there are all sorts of groups and individulas who are crawling out of the wood-work and claiming a historical and or religious link with the Jewish people and Judaism, like the Anusim, (see some discussion at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anusim and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Anusim and http://www.judaismo-iberico.org/responsa/resp.htm and http://www.cs.tau.ac.il/~nachum/sch/sch/anusim.html and many, many more)

The implications of such movements for Klal Yisroel as we know it to be, and certainly that portion that can be called Orthodox and Charedi and Chasidic Jewry, is that if the various trends and movements in the world that seek not just to "gather up" a few lost souls/sparks here and there but want to create mass movements backed up organizations and perhaps even by the secular Israeli government, in the process creating inevitbale de facto and de jure alliances with the non-Halachic Reform and Conservative movements, which themselves have been declared "NOT JUDAISM", that it will create more not less confusion, and more and not less of a need for Halachic clarifications by notable Batie Din and Rabbinical groups speaking authoritatively.

The example of the BADATZ declartion against EJF is a key and historic move in that direction just as the historic 1997 declaration stating that Reform and Conservative are not Judaism by the Agudas Harabonim (Union of Orthodox Rabbis, the oldest Orthodox rabbinical organization in America that was also headed by Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l, not be confused with the OU) of America published in The Jewish Press of Friday, April 4th, 1997.

That "Kol Koreh" caused an uproar but by now has been conveniently forgotten, or more accurately tucked away, but its message was refreshing for its clarity.

This is what they said about Reform and Conservative, so that lesser forms of "Judaism":
______

"A HISTORIC DECLARATION
Issued March 1997"

The Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada (Agudath Harabonim) hereby declares: Reform and Conservative are not Judaism at all. Their adherents are Jews, according to the Jewish Law, but their religion is not Judaism. The Union of Orthodox Rabbis of The United States and Canada is the oldest Orthodox Rabbinic Organization in North America. Its leaders and members have been and are renowned and authoritative Torah scholars. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, the foremost authority on Jewish law in our time, was its president until his passing (1895 – 1986).

1) The Agudath Harabonim has always been on guard against any attempt to alter, misrepresent or distort the Halacha (Jewish Law) as transmitted in the written an oral law, given by G-d through Moses on Sinai. It has therefore, rejected recognition of Reform and Conservative movements as Judaism, or their clergy as Rabbis. It has publicly rebuffed the claim of “three wings of Judaism.” There is only one Judaism: Torah Judaism. The Reform and Conservative are not Judaism at all, but another religion.

2) The present declaration is not based upon a new decision in Jewish Law. It is as old as Sinai. It is only giving new emphasis and vehemence, sounding an alarm and warning signal, because of the new dangers wrought by the conservative and reform movements. Their condoning of interfaith marriages, null and void conversions and homosexuality are repugnant not only to Torah Judaism, but also to common morality. Yet, they do this in the name of “Judaism.”

This declaration is thus a clarion call to all, that despite their brazen usurpation of the titles “Judaism,” “Jewish Heritage,” “Jewish Tradition,” “Jewish Continuity,” Reform and Conservative are not Judaism at all. They are outside of Torah and Outside of Judaism

3) Having caused havoc in the United States, leading generations of Jews toward assimilation and intermarriage, they now attempt to export their alien ideology to Israel. By promoting pluralism in Judaism, they seek to be recognized as rabbis entitled (contrary to existing law in Israel) to carry out Rabbinical functions, such as marriage, divorce, and conversion, contrary to Torah Law.

4) In addition to the above, from a Torah perspective, it is imperative to support Israel’s government in their refusal to change the status quo regarding the exclusive Orthodox Rabbinic authority. Even non-orthodox political leaders recognize that unless Jewish religious family law remains under the authority of the sole Rabbinate, the Jewish nation would be hopelessly divided.

5) Quotations from Torah luminaries of our time on the status of the Reform and Conservative movements and their clergy:

a) Chief Rabbi Herzog of Israel, zt”l: “Reform is not Judaism at all” – Dvar Halacha – Jerusalem 1956

b) The Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l: The doctrines and ideologies of the Reform and Conservative movements, can only be classed in the category of heretical movements which have plagued our people at one time or another, only to disappear eventually, having no basis in our everlasting Torah, the Torah of truth, the living Torah, Toras Emes, Toras Chaim.

c) Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l: The Karaites of the Geonic period were closer to Judaism than are the Reform of our time.

6) We appeal to our fellow Jew, members of the Reform and Conservative movements: Having been falsely led to believe by heretical leaders that Reform and Conservative are legitimate branches or denominations of Judaism, we urge you to be guided by this declaration, and withdraw from your affiliation with Reform and Conservative temples and their clergy. Do not hesitate to attend an Orthodox synagogue due to your inadequate observance of Judaism. On the contrary, it is because of that inadequacy that you need to attend an Orthodox synagogue where you will be warmly welcomed.

7) You, surely want your children and grand-children to remain Jewish and be qualified to marry Jews everywhere, make certain, then, to be guided by an Orthodox Rabbi in all areas of marriage, divorce, conversion, etc.

8) These are critical days for the State of Israel, under continuous threat by the Arabs and their allies throughout the world. Our return to Torah, in Israel and in the diaspora, will merit us to receive G-d’s help and guidance.
_____

THE UNION OF ORTHODOX RABBIS
OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA
235 EAST BROADWAY
NEW YORK, N.Y. 10002

212 964-6337
212 964-6338

A HALACHIC RULING

PROCLAIMED BY THE UNION OF ORTHODOX RABBIS OF THE

UNITED STATES AND CANADA - (AGUDATH HARABONIM)

Adar II, 5757
March 1997

It is prohibited to pray in a non-Orthodox Temple at any time. If one does not have an Orthodox synagogue within walking distance, one should pray at home. This is so even on Rosh Hashonah. One must not pray in a Conservative of Reform Temple, even if it means not hearing the blowing of the Shofar. This ruling is affirmed by the prior ruling of such Torah luminaries as Hagaon Reb Moshe Feinstein, zt'l, the late president of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, and Hagaon Reb Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt'l, of Boston, the late honorary president of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis.

Therefore, we call upon all Jews to discontinue to pray any time in a Conservative of Reform temple and instead pray in an Orthodox synagogue. If you have no Orthodox shul within walking distance, then pray at home.

May G-d grant that both the laity and the clergy of the Reform and Conservative movements will be guided by the light of the Torah to abandon their erroneous ways and through genuine Teshuva (repentance) return to Torah-Judaism."
______

The BADATZ in Eretz Yisroel of 2008 and and Agudas Harabonim in America of 1997, and Rav Eliashiv's call for the creation of a Registry of Halachic Jews, see below, saw fit to issue declarations and one can see that one of the core issues is the concern that these Orthodox and Charedi bodies have about the laxity of accepting watered-down or re-invented ideas about Yiddishkeit for a variety of reasons.

The phenomenon of the Anusim is related to the non-Halachic "conversions" by Reform and Conservative and to the "Jews by Choice" movement and of course to the vaguele-defined over-all strategy of EJF and how it wishes to move with or within these events.

Here is a link to the full text of the Agudas Harabonim declaration:

http://truejews.org/Igud_Historic_Declaration.htm

and here is the link and the full text of an article that was published in the English yated in 1999
http://truejews.org/Jewsih_Registration.htm
_____

From: Yated Neeman USA (Wed, 29 Dec 1999)

Rav Elyashiv:

"Independent Registry an Urgent Necessity"

by Moshe Schapiro

As hundreds of thousands of gentile immigrants continue to pour into Israel from the former Soviet Union, the Torah leadership of Eretz Yisroel has reached a momentous decision: to set up an independent registry to keep track of who is Jewish. Rav Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv and Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman strongly support the plan.

"There is no longer any doubt that the majority of immigrants coming to this country are not Jewish," says Rav Yosef Efrati, Rav Eliyashiv's closest disciple. "The Jewish Agency itself admits this, and yet many immigrants are [falsely] given documents stating that they are Jewish. Two generations from now, their children will speak fluent Hebrew and behave like regular Israelis, and no one will be able to tell the difference. What will prevent them from marrying Jews?"

According to Rav Efrati, Rav Eliyashiv shed many tears before finally arriving at this decision. He realizes that the establishment of an independent registry will divide the Jewish nation and evoke a strong backlash from the Israeli government and from the Reform and Conservative movements, as well as confuse and possibly alienate many non-aligned secular Jews. However, the alternative -- standing aside and allowing the wholesale infiltration of hundreds of thousands of gentiles into the Jewish People -- is totally unacceptable.

To date, over 500,000 non-Jewish immigrants have entered Israel under the aegis of the Law of Return. The law grants full citizenship status not only to Jews, but also to gentile descendants of Jews, and to the gentile next of kin of gentile descendants of Jews. Often, the Jewish Agency flies entire clans of gentiles to Israel on the basis of a long-forgotten Jewish grandfather of one of its members. Lately, gentiles throughout Russia have been applying for citizenship on the basis of forged documents linking them to fictitious Jewish relatives who supposedly lived several decades ago.

Though the immigration issue forced the decision to establish an independent registry, the system would solve many other problems that are not being addressed effectively by the governmental registry. For example, better tracking of mamzerim and Karaites [who have special marriage restrictions under Jewish Law].

In view of the long-term repercussions of establishing the independent registry, the Torah leadership of Eretz Yisroel will involve spiritual leaders from around the world in the plan so as to gain as wide a consensus as possible before implementing it in practice.

"Most Jews-even non-religious ones-identify with the halachic definition of who is a Jew. The key will be in how the plan is presented to them," Rav Efrati says. "This is one of the major obstacles to implementing the plan at this time. The Torah leadership of Eretz Yisroel wants to avoid alienating non-religious Jews at all costs. This would be counterproductive, since the objective here is to encourage every halachic Jew in the world to join the registry."

The American Torah community will play a central role in the implementation of the plan, since Israeli law prohibits the establishment of independent registries inside the country. Therefore, it is likely that the data bank will be situated in the United States.

The sheer logistics of registering approximately 12,000,000 Jews in all parts of the world are another daunting challenge. However, this has not deterred the spiritual leaders of Eretz Yisroel.

"Some people say that one should not ring the alarm when one does not have the complete solution to a problem," says Rav Efrati. "Rav Eliyashiv, however, disagrees. He believes that one should cry out even if one does not have the complete solution, for the very act of crying out will alert others and motivate them to work for the good of Klal Yisroel."
_____

Here are some important things to consider and it is not clear yet how they will jell:

One wonders how Rav Eliashiv's call in 1999 now fits in with EJF's desire to facilitate conversions? EJF has also not clarified if it will get involved in helping Anusim get conversions. The Reform and Conservative will no doubt stand behind the Anusim. The Agudas Harabonim has pasuled the Reform and Conservative. The BADATZ has pasuled the EJF. Rav Eliashiv has made it clear that there should be a Registry for all Halachic Jews.

Anusim join the Falashas, Jews with Reform and Conservative conversions, Russian Jews with partila non-Halachic Jewish lineage, and gentiles converted by Orthodox batei din under highly questionable Halachic circumstances such the non_Jew in an interfaith intermarriage converting for the sake of the Jewish spouse and partner.

Hopefully the BADATZ will take the lead in seeing the total picture of all these diparate groups seeking to all of a sudden "become instant Jews" and look into the matter conmprehesivly and block the door, in the spirit of Ezra HaSofer as a precedent! and issue definitive prohibitions and guidelines to stop invalid and doubtful conversions of all sorts in the light of so many alien and marginal groups and the organizations that back them wishing to knock down not just the doors to Klal Yisroel but to destroy the very core notion of H-shem himself being the one who is hamavdil bein Yisroel lo'amim.

9 comments :

  1. EJF has also not clarified if it will get involved in helping Anusim get conversions.

    It will not.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Did Rav Tropper help to facilitate the conversion of Ellen Kaplan's spouse, Otto Aguiar?

    This is what several articles about EJF and the Kaplans have implied.

    Aguiar is claimed by some to be a "converso" name, although most of the Sephardic Rabbis and scholars I know of regard the existence of "converso names" to be a myth.

    https://secure.peeters-leuven.be/POJ/downloadpdf.php?ticket_id=477f6fb1ea61b

    ReplyDelete
  3. Aish reprinted this article from Mishpacha magazine on their website:

    http://www.aish.com/spirituality/odysseys/Sparks_of_Holiness3_Rekindled.asp

    Then there is this one, I wrote to Aish and never received a response.

    http://www.aish.com/spirituality/odysseys/The_Torah_in_Our_Church.asp

    and this one. I speak Ladino, does this means that every time I meet a Hispanic person who can understand me, I should bring him/her home for Yom Tov?? I do regularly get to speak Ladino to some of the Gentile ladies who work in the stores where I shop. They tell me that they picked up the "Jewish" language because they lived around Jews.

    http://www.aish.com/jewishissues/jewishsociety/Miracle_in_Orlando.asp

    ReplyDelete
  4. Following the logic that speaking Ladino would qualify a person as a 'converso" Sephardic Jew, does this mean that Colin Powell is a "converso" Ashkenazic Jew?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Recipients and PublicityAugust 5, 2008 at 3:52 PM

    It seems that the modern-day affliction of the "urge to merge" gentiles with Jews is to be found everywhere in the Jewish world in all shapes and sizes: Reform Jews wishes to welcome non-Jewish mothers and do "keruv" to the universe; Chabad and Aish HaTorah work qietly to help the spouses and family members of supporters get easy conversions; the Israeli government welcomes hundreds of thousands of non-Jews into Israel; the Religious Zionists work to convert people in bulk; RCA rabbis go easy on conversions of congregants' inter-married congregants; and even Litvishe Haredim have "kiruv" that leads to conversion such as Rabbi Leib Tropper and his EJF that promotes and welcomes gentile spouses of Jews. So is it any suprise that the Sephardim have their own version and weakness, based on the revisionism of Jewish history and nutty search for Marranos (any "interested" Hispanic may apply) that they now call "Anusim" or "Converso" as can be seen from this small but significant item published in the usually strict-about-conversions Jewish Press:

    "The Jewish Press.
    Friday, August 1, 2008. Page 47.
    West Coast Happenings.
    Jeanne Litvin, West Coast Editor.

    Shul News: Recently Rabbi Simcha Green, formerly of Young Israel of Santa Barbara, became the spiritual leader of Congregation Ahavat Torah in San Jose, California, which became a Sephardic shul two years ago. Congregants come from Morocco, Syria, Iran, Romania and other communities – including Israel. This shul is an outreach center for Anusim (Conversos), previously referred to by Ashkenazim as Marranos. They are interested in hearing from people who include themselves in this category. On August 12- 18, they are hosting a Sephardic Heristage Week. Events are planned for both kids and adults. They include a Shabbos dinner for college students and singles, a Sephardic Food Cookoff, a talk on Jewish pirates during the Revolutionary War, and a symposium on the history of Conversos (to be held at San jose State University)."

    ReplyDelete
  6. To the author of this blog.

    The website www.judaismo-iberico.org has no connections with either the Reform or Conservative movements, and the organization that runs it is well connected with Ashkenazi Orthodox, Sephardic and Yemenite rabbis -- maybe not those of the liking of Hassidim or Haredim, but Kasher Jews nonetheless.

    You Sir, if you fear Heavens, need to apologize or erase those lies.

    By the way, Hassidím were declared heretics (mumarim) by the Gaon de Vilna, so where does that leave you guys in reference to Kelal Israel>

    ReplyDelete
  7. The website www.judaismo-iberico.org has no connections with either the Reform or Conservative movements, and the organization that runs it is well connected with Ashkenazi Orthodox, Sephardic and Yemenite rabbis -- maybe not those of the liking of Hassidim or Haredim, but Kasher Jews nonetheless.

    =================
    I would suggest you reread the post - it does not accuse you of what you claim. All is says is that the issue of anusim is discussed on a series of sites including yours.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It is so disturbing to see scholars and very well educated people to debate on a matter that really concern what? Heritage? Race? Religion? Culture? Let's all forget who the Anusim are, and let's forget who is in "charge" to make halachich desitions. But let us not forget the story of Ruth and of Avraham Avinu, who were converts and specially Avraham who was choosed by G-d! The first convert!!! Who are we to decide who wants to follow Judaism? Don't we have all these principles written in our Sefer Torah? To love our neighbhor? Are we G-d to decide who honestly or by deceive to join our People? Either way, we were stranger in Mitzrayim!!! Enough is enough! Let's concentrate ourselves in what G-d really wishes for us to be...Am Israel!!! By the way, my maternal great-grand father came from Spain and settle in Oaxaca, Mexico in the mid 1800's, and who later was killed by the system who persecuted MY PEOPLE, I had not prove before a Rabbi that he was Jewish, but many of the customs that are Jewish survived in the family, even the names. I'm a Ger and proud to be a Jew!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am shocked and appalled that someone with the name "sephardi pride" would DARE insinuate that Ashkenazim aren't true Jews! and that it was let go with no reply or comment from anyone!!!

    Does sephardi pride know that Avraham and Sarah were the first converts to Judaism?

    Aside from that being proud of being Sephardi does not allow one to make outlandish comments or accusations that Jews aren't Jews!!!

    Sephardi Pride is a bat anusah who is not being allowed to go to Mikvah because she has yet to convince any rabbi that she should be allowed to go. That she suffers emotional pain and feelings of rejection is understandable, but to call Jews Goyim is unacceptable and disgusting. With "Jews" like you who needs Goyim sephardi pride?

    My own family is from Poland, and half Sephardi ()yes, there were Sephardim in Poland people!!!) and half Ashkenazi. All the Ashkenazis assimilated and the Sephardi Jews stayed religious. I decided to align myself with the Sephardi part because after hearing my case and that my father isn't Jewish a Beit Din gave me permission. But I would never go as far as to accuse my Ashkeazi relatives of being non-Jewish and not descendants of Avraham!!

    The reason we have lasted as Jews for 3500 years is precisely because Judaism is NOT Christianity, we are not a faith only religion. We tell our children to be Jewish based on a hand written fact - the Torah, the five books of Moses, that has been passed down from generation to generation, since we first stood at Mt. Sinai. We don't ask our children to accept Judaism on faith, but on fact, on evidence of our dedication to keep laws that Hashem gave us over 3500 years ago.

    All adult Jews were required to undergo their own conversion at Sinai, including immersion in a Mikvah. Men were also required to undergo circumcision. These are the same exact requirements we demand of converts today - that they, too, undergo the "Sinai treatment". It is understood that the Kuzars - if they even existed at all - did the same. I find it ridiculous that a fictitious group of people written about by one rabbi can all of a sudden be the so-called appointed ancestors of the Jewish people, and used by Sephardim to say Ashkenazis aren't Jews, when we have no actual evidence that Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi was actually writing about real people!!! Keep your fact and fiction straight people!!! Yehuda HaLevi was understood to be using a very large allegory for his writings.

    ReplyDelete

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